How Did I Manage to Kill a Nasty Nightmare by Myself?
Hell and Heaven - Both Exist in Dreams
Everything is possible in dream – not only can you experience delights unthinkable in real life, but can also go through hell that you may not even want to imagine. No one complains as long as dreams bring pleasurable experiences. Problem begins when dreams turn into nightmares and it is a big problem because you have to live through it all alone!
Sleep And Dream Humor
A professor is someone who talk's in someone else's
– Wystan Auden
He dreamed he was eating shredded wheat and woke up to find the
mattress half gone.
– Fred Allen
I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I'm
awake, you know?
– Ernest Hemingway
Laugh and the world laughs with you;
snore, and you sleep alone!
– Anthony Burgess
I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting.
– Mark Twain
My Actual Battle With A Recurring Nightmare
I had to battle with a nasty overwhelming nightmare years ago when I was doing my graduate studies in Chicago. Of course, as you know there was tremendous pressure of studies and research. I began to get haunted by a particular dream (shall I say nightmare), which was tormenting me off and on since childhood.
And the nightmare:
I am in a strange scary dilapidated building with moving pillars. The pillar nearest to me would begin to fall on me and... at this moment, I would wake up totally terrified, unable to sleep again for rest of the night for fear of being crushed.
It went on for several nights. Soon I reached a point when I would be constantly feeling sleepy but the thought of sleep would fill me with anxiety and soon it began to affect my work.
Now I was really worried and had to do something fast. I did not want to go to some psychiatrist for fear of looking silly. I read several books but could not come with any solution. I was desperate. So I began reasoning myself -- a dream is just a dream; it is not at all real; so my fear is not real. How could pillars that exist only in dream crush me? I finally concluded that the imaginary pillar of the dream couldn’t hurt me.
Well, good logic but the feeling of terror and helplessness were very real. Anyhow, I decided to put up a fight in the dream. But how? After much thinking I came up with my "great idea": I would let the pillar(s) fall on me as long as I could; and when the fear becomes unmanageable I would open my eyes. Because when I open my eyes the dream (and hence the pillars) would have to vanish; thus, I created an escape route as a last resort.
In my next dream, I actually did as planned... I offered a conscious resistance… I did open my eyes as a last defense. But something “vital” changed within me.
Freedom From Nightmares Is Freedom From Fear
The nightmare never visited me again since then. But it opened a new window in my mind and taught me a great lesson – Stand Up and Face The Fear. It is several years now but my reaction to fear and pain has undergone a drastic change. I don’t know what I did was right or wrong because I am not a dream expert, but I did tackle something highly annoying and painful in my own way. It gave me a “confront and conquer” attitude.
The obvious problem when it comes to dreams is that we don’t know that we were dreaming until we come out of it. When we sleep we lose conscious control and awareness of what is going on with us. Only when we wake up from some intense dream we realize that something was going on in the sleep.
It is of tremendous help if somehow we can maintain awareness (wakeful consciousness) while dreaming. This mindfulness can help us respond to the dream situations in a more creative manner and turn the dreams (nightmares) into useful tools to explore and heal your inner self.
The conscious knowledge (in dream) that we are dreaming is called “lucid dreaming”. Lucidity often begins in the middle of the dream when we realize that whatever we are experiencing is not a reality but is a dream. Nurturing this mindful awareness is the key to gaining control over what we dream.
The Benefits Of Lucid Dreaming
The skill of lucid dreaming is an excellent way of combating recurring nightmares. Normally we are victims of nightmares and have no control over the dream events. But when we are lucid, we have the capacity to control the script of dreams. The fact that dreams can’t physically harm us is the key weapon to take the punch out of the nightmares.
If we learn to maintain wakeful awareness while dreaming, we can shape our reactions to dream characters and influence the dream situation. This ability is highly empowering and is a wonderful tool for emotional release. Thus, bad dreams actually offer opportunity, provided we are armed with the tool of mental awareness. It can save us from playing the role of a victim and allows us to assert. Bad dreams and nightmares can not torment a mind illuminated with the light of conscious awareness (mindfulness).
Develop Dream Consciousness
While some people are naturally more aware of their dream states, others hardly know anything. But the good news is that the awareness can be developed. Some popular ways people try to become dream conscious are listed here.
- Develop a strong intention: You start by developing a strong intention to remain aware in the dreams. Reaffirm this thought (wish) several times a day, and most particularly before going to bed. The idea is to sink this thought in the subconscious mind.
- Create a dream journal: Keep writing material ready and whenever you wake up during night, note down whatever you can recall. This activity also reaffirms your seriousness about dream consciousness. Highlight points that can only occur in dream - for example, floating in air. These are reminders that you must be dreaming.
- Before you drift asleep: Just before you go to sleep, read and reread your dream diary paying particular attention to highlighted dream signs. Reaffirm your intention to be aware when you dream.
- Wake up after 5-6 hours and sleep again: Dreams are normally associated with REM phase that is more abundant after a couple of hours. Try waking up after 5-6 hours; reaffirm your intention to be aware while dreaming again. Stay with this affirmation until you fall asleep. You may also try remaining conscious till dreaming starts, but it is somewhat harder.
Develop Mindful Awareness
This will greatly help your goal of becoming dream consciousness. It is nothing but a training to always remain in the present moment with full alertness. While you are expected to notice everything going on inside you -- thoughts, emotions, and feelings; but you maintain a dispassionate and non-judgmental mental attitude. You merely take note but try not to react. I can suggest two ways to go about developing mindfulness.
1. The traditional way is through the practice of mindfulness meditation (also called Vipassana meditation). It will greatly sensitize you towards your feelings and sensations in the body and will raise your general level of awareness. It can be learned systematically by joining a 10-day Vipassana meditation camp of Vipassana International Academy, organized all over the world. The courses are FREE and anyone can join.
You will be practicing 10-12 hours daily, so check how strong your motivation is before signing up. If you have any doubt about efficacy of the technique, you must read this hub and watch the 3 inspiring documentaries mentioned there: Vipassana Meditation in Prisons
2. This is a useful method for busy people who can't spare time for the above approach. It involves listening to brainwave entrainment audios programmed for lucid dreaming. It is possible to induce mental states conducive for lucid dreaming through the specially designed audios. The lucid dreaming audios have frequency sequence that correspond to mental states of dreaming and wakefulness simultaneously. But remember you have to show mental courage to challenge the scary monsters of the nightmares.
Why Binaural Recordings are great !!
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